When the Rangers acquired Vladimir Tarasenko, and later Patrick Kane, there were doubts about whether one or both would be good fits. Both had struggles, poor metrics, and appeared to be shells of their former selves. Expecting prime Kane or prime Tarasenko was always folly, but the human factor was seemingly ignored by some analysts. With both Tarasenko and Kane proving doubters wrong, the Rangers seem poised to make a deep playoff run.
Tarasenko had fewer doubts
To be fair to Tarasenko, there were far fewer doubts when his trade was announced. The winger that should have been drafted by the Rangers in 2010 was one season removed from an 82 point season, and still had 10 goals and 29 points in 38 games prior to his trade. The two seasons before, though, he had just 7 goals and 24 points over two seasons and 34 games.
A recurring shoulder injury was the main culprit for Tarasenko. His 82 point season, in 75 games no less, should have put any doubts to rest, but there were still concerns if Tarasenko was truly the answer the Rangers needed. Now, with 5 goals and 13 points in 20 games, he’s showing he can be that top line RW they so desperately needed.
Kane proving doubters wrong
As for Kane, he had been a shell of himself for quite some time. The points were always there, but the play driving was not. That’s fine, assuming he was put on a play driving line, as sometimes you just need pure offense. Like Tarasenko, his point totals this year were down from prior years, and it was easy to point to his situation in Chicago as one of the primary reasons. It also felt like it was lazy analysis.
The reality was a bit of both. It was lazy analysis, as Kane is not the player he used to be and his hip was certainly a concern. That’s fine, since it is also true he needed a change of scenery. There’s definitely more of a jump in his step, with 3 goals and 7 points in 10 games thus far.
Kane is not going to be the guy that plays stellar three zone hockey. But as of now, it does look like his line with Vincent Trocheck and Chris Kreider is firing on all cylinders. Kane proving doubters wrong is more focused on the offensive side of things.
The human factor matters
For both trades, Chris Drury was hoping to get the last little bit of hockey out of both players, and also hoping the change of scenery did that for both. His gamble is paying off so far.
Both Kane and Tarasenko look re-energized and ready for another playoff run. This could be their last shot at a Stanley Cup, so that extra jump shouldn’t disappear any time soon. Whether or not both can manage their recurring shoulder/hip issues will eventually show us if the moves were worth it in the end.
There’s tremendous pressure, more on Kane than Tarasenko, to prove doubters wrong. So far, they both are. But there is a long way to go.